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Survivor Portraits – Dasia Black Gutman

In this image from our collection, Dasia holds a photo of her parents close to her heart. She was four years old and living as an Aryan child when her mother and father were deported to Zbaraz ghetto and later murdered. 

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NAIDOC Week: William Cooper’s legacy

NAIDOC Week: William Cooper’s legacy The roots of NAIDOC Week can be traced back to the 1920s and 30s, when First Nations rights groups took formation and staged boycotts and …

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Shining a spotlight on our volunteers

Hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life and backgrounds have dedicated their time and hard work to support the Museum since our inception 30 years ago. Here’s a spotlight on some of the generous volunteers who work with us.

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Survivor Portraits – Lucy Chladek

Lucy Chladek was born in 1937. Even after surviving the Holocaust, she and her family were still not safe.

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The stories behind the pink triangle

On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia we reflect on the untold testimonies from the persecuted LGBTIQ community during the Holocaust.

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A three-month job that’s lasted nearly three decades

In 1994, a librarian named Tinny Lenthen took what she thought was a short-term job opportunity at the Museum’s newly opened library. 28 years later, Tinny still sits behind the library desk. She remains one of few constants in a space that has been totally transformed over three decades.

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Uncovering an exhibition that was never seen

Last July, Wendy Sharpe took to the walls of the Museum to paint a large mural titled “Vu iz dos Gesele?” Sadly, due to Covid lockdowns, the mural would never be seen by Museum visitors, until now, with the release of a new documentary by Joshua and Karly Marks about the exhibition. Here’s what the filmmakers had to say.

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“Never Again”: Raising Genocide Awareness

During Genocide Awareness Month, Dr Breann Fallon explores the hard truth that the crime of genocide prevails around the world – and that genocidal atrocities are occurring right now, in more than one place. We examine the definition of genocide as a crime, some of the cases of genocide that have been ignored and the key warning signs we should be looking out for.

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What happened to Jewish Allied soldiers during the Holocaust?

Not much has been written about Jewish soldiers fighting in the Allied armies against Germany during World War II. One estimate puts the number at 1.5 million. Resident Historian, Emeritus Professor Dr Konrad Kwiet examines what happened to Jewish Allied soldiers during the Holocaust.

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“This year in Jerusalem”: the story of a Seder plate

This Seder plate from our collection was given to Samuel Steif in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany in 1948. It depicts the emancipation of the Jewish people from slavery – a meaning that would have taken on a deeper significance right after the Holocaust. It is engraved not with the traditional saying “Next year in Jerusalem”, but rather, “This year in Jerusalem”.

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Telling the Holocaust through poems

For many Holocaust victims and survivors, poetry was used to convey experience in ways that traditional language simply could not. Holocaust poems have emerged as an important medium to express emotions of suffering, despair and even hope.

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Gandel Survey finds a quarter of Australians don’t know about the Holocaust 

A recent Australia-wide survey by the Gandel Foundation found that a quarter of Australians don’t know about the Holocaust. Our Head of Education, Dr Rebecca Kummerfeld provides some important insights.

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On Mice and Men: The banning of Art Spigelman’s “Maus”

The recent banning of Art Spigelman’s “Maus” books by a US school board prompts Sydney Jewish Museum Educator, Dr Breann Fallon, to ask: what is more dangerous, a book itself or the action of banning it? 

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In love and Auschwitz

Bully and Gerda became engaged after meeting in the Berlin Jewish Youth movement in 1937, but the burgeoning romance was almost cut short when Bully was deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1939.

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The Wannsee Protocol and The Villa at the Lake

On 20 January 1942, high-ranking officials of the Nazi State assembled at a villa on lake Wannsee in Berlin to sign the infamous Wannsee protocol, a plan for what was to be known as the “Final Solution”.

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A lamp with no shade

In 2018, we received a donation of a mysterious hand-carved lampstand. We know little about the maker, aside from the fact that they were a Lithuanian displaced person in a DP camp in Germany.

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The Amazing Mr Rooklyn

Maurice Rooklyn was one of Australia’s leading entertainers – a hypnotist, juggler, ventriloquist, illusionist and magician. Born in England in 1905 to Russian-Jewish parents, his family migrated to Australia in 1912.  

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A story hidden in the seams

These Christmas-themed charms in our collection were made by a seamstress named Trude Baumann, within the walls of Oederan concentration camp between 1944 and 1945. Delicately detailed using small pieces of green and red felt, they showcase her talent for intricate stitchwork.

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The shoemaker from the shtetl

Jacob Bloch was a shoemaker from a shtetl in Lithuania, who immigrated to Sydney during the Great Depression. Barely able to speak English when he arrived, Jacob went from dance studio to dance studio, selling shoes. 90 years later, Bloch is an internationally-renowned dance and activewear label.

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Uncovering a family’s last letters

This new donation to our collection will keep our curators and a Yiddish translator busy for at least three years.

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Survivor Portraits – Jack Feiler

Jack was born in a village just outside of Krakow, where a small group of Jews were hiding in a farmstead. With Nazis patrolling the area, the cries of a baby in hiding created an imminent danger.

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Shining light on the chanukiah from Theresienstadt

This chanukiah was used by Rosalie and Ernst Salm to celebrate the festival of Chanukah, during the three years they were incarcerated in the Theresienstadt. It appears to have been made by hand from a low-grade metal; there are no distinctive marks from the chanukiah’s maker, though it was created by inmates within the walls of the ghetto-concentration camp. 

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Malka Bulkowstein and the Children’s Memorial

Adek Bulkowstein experienced a loss so great that he was never able to speak of it with anyone: His wife, Lila, and five-year-old daughter, Malka, were both murdered in Treblinka.

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“She gave me life”: How Irena Szumska-Ingram saved her Jewish husband

In November 2009, Irena Szumska-Ingram was honoured posthumously with the Righteous Among the Nations award for saving the life of Bernard Hellreich – the man who would later become her husband. 

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Survivor Portraits – Peter Gyenes

Peter Gyenes was born in 1941 in Budapest, Hungary. His story highlights the power of kindness and compassion.

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Regina Zielinski: Escape from Sobibor

Regina Zielinski: Escape from Sobibor By Roslyn Sugarman, Head Curator Every year on 14 October we remember Regina Zielinski, Australia’s only Sobibor death camp survivor. Regina (Riva) was born on …

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Holocaust ‘fashion’

Holocaust ‘fashion’ By Dr Jonathan Kaplan, 2021 Museum Research Fellow Despite the horrific conditions of the Nazi camps, prisoners tried to maintain control over their own bodies in whatever ways …

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Survivor Portraits – Alice Loeb

Alice Loeb was born in 1943 in Zurich, Switzerland. She was born stateless, as her parents escaped from Austria in 1938 after the Nazis invaded.

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“An eye for an eye”

“An eye for an eye” By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian “Jewish Youth!… Do not be led astray. Of the 80,000 Jews in the ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’ (Vilna) only …

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Lucky the cat

Beate Beer escaped Nazi Germany to England on the Kindertransport. Separated from her parents, she had to adjust to a new life with her foster family.

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Kamianets-Podilskyi and the 1941 massacres

Wendy Sharpe’s mural features the historic city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, but its iconic fortress holds a dark history. The massacres perpetrated by the Germans and their collaborators on the site exactly 80 years ago destroyed the thriving Jewish world of Kamianets-Podilskyi, and with it dos gesele, the little street. 

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Heinrich and Hermine

The rag dolls and teddy bear on display in the Sydney Jewish Museum were made in Italy by a Jewish refugee known only as ‘Skalla’. Instead of being made as a toy for children, they were made as a substitute for lost children, a way to memorialise and remember her children who did not survive the war.

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“My beloved little Inge, I wish you all the best for the New Year”

In time for Rosh Hashana and the high holidays, we share a series of letters in the Sydney Jewish Museum’s collection, written to Inge-Ruth Herrmman.

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An interview with Wendy Sharpe

An interview with Wendy Sharpe One of Australia’s favourite artists, Wendy Sharpe recently spoke to us about the process of creating a large-scale mural of her family history in the middle of a pandemic …

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A friendship book rescued from a second-hand bookshop

A small ‘autograph book’ or ‘friendship album’ kept by a young German girl came into our possession in 2015: it had been rescued from obscurity from a second-hand bookshop in Bondi in the mid-1980s. How it came to be there one can only speculate.

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Preserving a lost religious world

These silver Judaica items tell a story of a lost religious world. They survived the Holocaust and post-war communism, and were smuggled out from Hungary to Australia, one by one, in the 1980s.

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4 lessons you can learn today from Holocaust survivors

If you are in need of inspiration today, here are words from four Holocaust survivors on resilience, perspective, happiness and humour.

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Survivor Portraits – Maurice Linker

Maurice Linker was born in 1930 in Czernowitz, Romania. Maurice and his family survived the Holocaust with the help of the Mayor of Czernowitz.

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Survivor Portraits – Beate Stricker

Beate Stricker was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1930. Beate’s father sourced the necessary papers for the family to leave immediately after Kristallnacht. Their destination was Australia.

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Kapos: collaborators, perpetrators or victims?

Kapos: collaborators, perpetrators or victims? By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian Jewish Kapos played a pivotal role in the history of the Holocaust. Imprisoned in concentration camps, Kapos were …

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